Mystery of "missing" foreigners
From S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service
SHIMLA, Nov 7 1998
Mystery regarding the disappearance of the foreign tourists in the Kulu district has deepened further with the police saying that there was no trace of 14 of them.
Of the 15 foreigners reported missing, only one was traced so far. As many as eight of them had disappeared in the Manikaran valley.
Among the 'disappeared' foreign tourists, six were women. Foreign tourists have been disappearing in the Kulu district since 1992 and the shortage of police manpower has prevented the police from keeping vigil on the visitors.
This has been stated in a report to the state Human Rights Commission by the Superintendent of Police, Kulu. The Commission had directed him to file the report following newspaper reports about the missing tourists. The report of the 'disappeared' tourists was highlighted recently by the foreign media.
The police has said that all efforts to trace the missing foreigners have proved futile. The crime branch of the CID was investigating some of these cases. Only one Australian tourist, Miss Burfitt Jacqueline Louise, who was reported missing in June 1993, has so far been traced.
Thirty-three foreigners had died between 1991 and 1998 in the Kulu district. Their bodies were cremated only after directions from their respective embassies or high commissions. Nine of them had died while trekking.
A 30-year Swiss tourist, Miss Marianne Heer, disappeared in the Manikaran valley where she was last seen with one Ganga Ram in October 1992. The crime branch was investigating the case which was reported by the Swiss Embassy at Delhi.
There was no trace of Heer or Ganga Ram so far.
A Yugoslavian tourist, Miss Tatjama, suddenly disappeared when she came out of her hotel room in the Naggar area on January 20, 1992.
Her disappearance was reported to the police by Miss Cladiua, an Italian woman, who accompanied Miss Tatjama and two others to Naggar for trekking and stayed at a hotel at Chharahan. Tatjama went out of the room at 10 am the same day and never returned.
Mr Mintzer Nadav, an Israeli tourist, has been missing since 1997. He was last seen at Manali on September 20 and thereafter he could not be traced.
During investigations the police found that some traveller cheques held by Mintzer were encashed in Jaipur, Delhi and Aurangabad after his disappearance. However, the signatures of encashment do not tally with those of Mintzer.
Mr Ardavan Taherzadeh (25), a Canadian tourist, is missing in the Kasol area since May 21, 1997. His mother, Homa Boustani, lodged a report about her missing son on August 12, 1997.
He last contacted his home at Canada on May 21 from Kasol in Manikaran.
A British, Mr Ian Mogford, who was temporarily residing at Mohali and left for Kulu from Chandigarh on August 10, 1996, disappeared my- steriously. During interrogation, one Rudernagh Baba alias Prabhapuri told the police that Mogford met him at the Shiv temple at Manikaran along with a Turkish, Mr Nurethlin Rydin.
Mr Paul Roche (30) an Irish, went missing in February 1996 while he was on his way to Koksar from Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district.
Roche had come for trekking from Manali to Lama Yuru in three weeks. However, he disappeared even before starting the trek.
Efforts of the police to trace Miss Odette Houghton, an Australian, in the upper Manali, Malana and Parbati areas since 1993 have been futile. She was last seen in the Manikaran area.
An American couple, Ms Ashley Palumbo and Mr Tyler Mondlock, disappeared in mysterious circumstances after encashing a travellers cheque worth $ 150 from the United Commercial Bank, Manali, on August 25, 1995.
The couple stayed in hotel Green Land at Manali where they had mentioned in the "C" form that they will leave for Delhi on September 5. However, they left the hotel on August 26 and disappeared. No clue about them was found in Keylong and Leh.
Relatives of the couple have engaged private detectives for tracing them, but no clue has so far been found.
There is much suspense in the disappearance of Mr H.R.M. Timmer Arents, a Dutch, from a hotel at Manali where he was last seen in June 1995.
Mr H.G. Timmer, brother of the missing tourist, personally came to Kulu to trace him. A skeleton was found in the Solang nullah which his brother suspected to be of the missing man. However, the skeleton was sent to the Indira Gandhi Medical College here for examination where it was found that it was not of the missing Timmer.
Mr Timmer had also visited the Roerich estate at Naggar before he disappeared.
The efforts of the Australian police to trace Mr Gregory John Powell, have also failed. He was reported missing in the Manikaran area since October 1995. He was also not traceable at Malana.
Detective Sergent Brian Graham of the Australian Federal Police, who was stationed at Islamabad, visited Kulu on August 1, 1996 to make a futile effort to trace him.
His brother, Mr Butter Brian Powell lodged a report on December 6, 1996 that his brother has been kidnapped and murdered.
Ms Jassot Alxendro, an Australian, has remained untraced after she was reported missing between Leh and Manali in August 1996.
Mr Heinz Ruegg, a Swiss national, suddenly disappeared at Kothi in Manali where he had gone along with his wife and children for sight-seeing in June 1996.
The SP has said that no foreigner has been reported missing since September 1997.